Barbara brothers staying on after Surfside sale

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Seven years after discussions with Surfside 3 Marina’s owners first began, MarineMax has finally acquired the Northeastern boat dealership chain (For more information on the terms of the acquisition, see “MarineMax makes its largest acquisition to date” below).

Now, let the integration begin – or so you’d think. In actuality, it began several months ago, according to Bill McGill, MarineMax CEO.

In an interview today, he explained that the company started training Surfside 3 on its Integrated Dealer Systems computer system in January – the new system was installed months ago – and has since also begun working to align its HR, marketing and inventory departments.

“Some of the biggest things we will bring to the equation are … systems and processes that can streamline [their operations],” McGill explained.

Headed in the same direction, faster

Ultimately, little has changed or will change at Surfside’s core. For example, its culture will stay the same, said McGill. And Matthew and Paul Barbara will remain with the company, with Matthew taking on the role of president while Paul focuses on growth opportunities as a vice president.

The goals Surfside put forth about a year ago of adding new marinas, showrooms, service facilities and product lines and increasing market share are primary drivers in MarineMax’s business as well, McGill explained. And MarineMax can help it meet and exceed those goals faster. In addition, the company can help Surfside grow in other ways – such as by increasing its finance and insurance businesses, parts and accessories sales, and service work. In fact, MarineMax is working to grow these sectors of its business throughout its chain of stores.

(For more information on MarineMax’s future direction, see March feature article, “Growth spurt” on our Web site at

Surfside customers can also benefit from a web of 85 MarineMax locations when they travel with their boats. In fact, through MarineMax Connection, customers who winter in Florida can have their boats delivered there for them.

The last thing to change may be the Surfside 3 name. McGill acknowledged the value of the brand and explained that while MarineMax will be added to the signage – as in MarineMax Surfside 3 – it may be as long as five years before the Barbara family decides it’s time to eliminate the Surfside brand altogether.

Why now?

Analyst Ed Aaron of RBC Capital Markets suggested in a statement yesterday that the timing of MarineMax’s two largest acquisitions to date is not a coincidence.

“Dealers’ decisions to sell are likely influenced by their perception of a more challenging industry environment,” he said.

But McGill indicated that the timing of acquisitions have more to do with an increase in customers’ expectations, which requires a more professional dealer, with systems and processes in place to provide the proper support.

“We believe it’s always a good time to look at how to make your business better,” he commented.

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